Stay Away from Vapes in Adolescence

Appealing vape liquid with foodlike flavors are dangerous, researchers confirm

Stay Away from Vapes in Adolescence

Stay Away from Vapes in Adolescence


Vaping creates refreshments among teenagers. They like vaping because it has different flavors like fruit medley, crème brûlée, and cotton candy. The number of teens vape users increases as the flavors are tantalizing. But it is time to say goodbye to these flavors from the United States since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned using these flavors in e-cigarettes. According to this new policy by this agency, companies are allowed to make vapes with only having tobacco or menthol flavor, nothing else. 

Although there will be no other flavors, vaping remains addictive and appealing for containing nicotine. As a result, researchers begin to investigate how the nicotine in the vapes impacts the brain’s development, and they need to go a long way. 

A Yale University neuroscientist, Marina Picciotto talks about her findings, most relating the animals at the annual meeting organized by AAAS last Friday. It is only the past decade when vaping became immensely popular. She says, “We don’t know yet what the consequences are going to be for the long-term intake of vape fluids or the nicotine in vaping.” But she believes that the study is an emerging one with its stack of clues.

The adult users are the primary source of data collection, and they hint that nicotine is highly addictive. Researchers found that vapes are containing more nicotine than a cigarette packet does. Picciotto says, “Nicotine takes things your kind of like and it makes you like them more. Nicotine enhances the rewarding effects of flavors or other stimuli that are slightly rewarding.” As nicotine itself is addictive itself, it makes the flavors more appealing to them, and once the teens start to use them, they cannot do without it. The attraction to vaping derives them to be a music lover or have a sexual experience. Instead, they find pleasure in taking nicotine through vaping.  

Until now, Picciotto studied mice to find out the long term effects of nicotine use. How nicotine threatens their developing brains? Well, looking at the brain structure of the adolescent mice, she finds changes in their brain cells. This change alters the natural way of information transfer throughout the brain. For this reason, the mice that exposed nicotine were different from other mice. They responded to very low stimuli and became more sensitive to stress. As an example, we can consider a slight amount of electrical shock. The normal mice don’t even show anything that happened to them. But the nicotine-exposed mice massive reaction to the shock. The same thing applies to humans also. The children showed emotional overreaction to stress who were exposed to nicotine even before their birth.    

The findings by Picciotto suggest that nicotine-exposed adolescents can have structural changes in their brains too. This nicotine addiction harms their lives when they become grown-ups. She remarks that the study should be extended further to find out the relationship between nicotine exposure and behavioral problems in adulthood. The relationship is complicated, no doubt.

Should we only be worried about nicotine alone? What about the other harmful ingredients that the vape liquid contains? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already recorded nearly 3000 vape-related hospitalizations that also confirms 64 vape-related deaths. According to their data collection, the deaths may be caused because the vape companies used custom-made vitamin E oil and distributed them illegally.

Vitamin E oil is notorious for containing fats and Picciotto says fats are capable of inflaming the lungs. This clarifies why too many vape-using people are hospitalized with lung-related health issues. Some other ingredients like polyethylene glycol which our lungs can not sustain and Picciotto says they don’t belong to our lungs. She says, “The issue of what is in vape liquid is one that’s very important.”    

Picciotto has a suggestion for the vaping companies that they should make a list of ingredients and mention their percentages on the packet. She says, “We have labeling of all the food that we get in the supermarket. Why would we not demand that we have labeling of every constituent in the vape liquid?” 


She also opines that public health campaigns can help largely by rising awareness among people in general. By clarifying the risks of vaping and the impacts of nicotine in the brain development of the teens, the campaigns can discourage teens who are using and willing to use vaping in the future. Picciotto does not deny that switching to vaping for adult smokers is beneficial, but teens should stay away from it as “they are inhaling harmless steam” is not right in the case of vapes.